Posts Tagged ‘Mardi Gras

12
Feb
10

Lombardi Gras: The Text

Just to show I’m no audio snob, I’m going to present to you guys the text of my new short story, Lombardi Gras, that premiered yesterday on the Evercast podcast. If you want to listen to it (I’d really appreciate it if you did, by the way) you can still download it totally for free. And you can spread the word. And tell your friends.

EVERCAST #14: LOMBARDI GRAS

Although Kurt Deschane was wearing a black hoodie over a black baseball cap, he was not trimmed in gold, nor did he wear the fleur-de-lis emblem that many of those in the crowd would be sporting that night. He’d been driving Mardi Gras floats for 15 years now, and while this parade had no particular relevance to him, he wasn’t going to turn down an extra night’s work.

Most Krewes spent months planning their parades, but this one had been thrown together in less than two weeks. Donated floats from the other Krewes, the real Krewes, overtime for the police escorting the procession, and a reverse parade route, beginning at the Super Dome and going backwards to Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World, where many of the same floats would begin different parades next weekend. Kurt would be driving then, too. He loved Mardi Gras, after all. He just didn’t quite get all this fuss over a football team. He’d never really been a sports fan, never really cared about the Superbowl, and while everyone around him was going crazy for this team, for him it was just another parade.

Getting ready to roll from the dome, situated behind one of the high school marching bands, he looked down at the cop who was guiding them on to the parade route.

“How many have we got out there?” he asked. He’d heard estimates predicting about 250,000 people at this parade. Big, but certainly not the biggest he’d ever seen.

The cop, though, chucked at the question.

“What?”

“Man, you won’t believe it until you see it.”

He waved Kurt out of the dome, onto the street, and the celebration the city of New Orleans would come to call Lombardi Gras began.

It was a wall, Kurt realized. This was what people meant when they said there was a “wall” of humanity. People packed in sometimes fifty deep, screaming louder than any crowd he’d ever heard before. But they weren’t screaming for beads or throws, and not one person on the route was howling for some girl to whip her top off. They were cheering with joy. The bead sacks were still there – the football players on the floats were throwing, after all, but many of the throws went ignored as people instead took snapshots and videos recorded the victory procession. The standard “THROW ME SOMETHING” signs were replaced by signs reading “BLESS YOU BOYS,” “WE NEEDED DAT,” and “BREESUS! OFFICIATE AT OUR WEDDING!”

A shocking number of signs simply said, “THANK YOU.”

Not far from Kurt’s truck, Stacy Mounts was telling her cameraman, Paul, to make sure he caught all of this. Destination Television had been sending her to host their annual Mardi Gras special for five years now, and she’d seen firsthand how New Orleans was recovering from Hurricane Katrina. They always went out to look at some of the impoverished areas, the neighborhoods that still had not rebuilt, and they used that to contrast the celebration on Bourbon and Canal. This year, they sent her in a week early when it became clear that there was going to be a Mardi Gras parade for the team, regardless of whether they won or lost.

Five years, though, and she had never seen anything like this. People from some of the poorest neighborhoods in the country were swarming the city to cheer for floats loaded with millionaires. And they were thanking them.

How much was this parade going to cost the city?

Then she realized she was asking the wrong question.

When people elsewhere in the country saw her TV special, how much did this city stand to make in good publicity, in publicity it sorely needed? Winning the game by 14 points – that was impressive. But the attention the city got as a result had the potential to be a much bigger win.

“I can’t get the crowd, Stacy,” Paul said. “There’s too many of them. You’d need a helicopter to get all of this!”

“Don’t worry about it, just get what you can!” They were screaming at each other, trying to hold a conversation over the cacophony.

“Don’t wear out your voice!” he shouted back. “We’re supposed to do the tour of the Ninth Ward tomorrow!”

She shook her head. “Not this time, Paul! Let ‘em use B-roll if they want it! No more ‘Feel Sorry For the Big Easy’ segments! That’s not the story anymore.”

She had him point the camera out into the crowd and walked on into the truly joyful madness.

It was the slowest parade Kurt ever rolled in. There were the usual stops at Gallier Hall, where the Mayor, Governor, and about a half-dozen members of the legislature were lining up to toast the team owner, quarterback, and head coach. But there were so many people in the crowd that, at many spots along the route, the metal barricades were overwhelmed. In some spots, the fans were going right up to the floats and handing the players shirts, magazines, hats, and newspapers to autograph. And every one of them did so, with smiles that would not break.

About a mile down the route, during one of those stops, Kurt saw a kid wandering close to the wheels of his tractor. He looked around frantically, trying to spot a parent that belonged to the child, but in this mob there was just no way to tell. He looked down at one of the cops providing escort and signaled to him. When the cop realized Kurt was pointing at a kid roaming the ground, he jumped out of his cruiser and grabbed the little boy. He looked a bit dazed – overwhelmed was probably the better word – but unhurt.

“What’s your name, son?” he shouted.

“Mickey.” The boy blinked coolly. He couldn’t have been older than five.

“Mickey, where are you mommy and daddy?”

“I don’t know,” Mickey said. He had to give the child credit – a lot of kids his age would be screaming in terror by now. Mickey looked anxious, but he was still very composed.

The cop started to look around, trying to find Mickey’s parents. He even called out, “Whose child is this?” a few times, but nobody could hear him. This was bad. Really bad. IF he didn’t find Mom and Dad soon, in a crowd this big, he’d have to take the boy to the station. He could be lost for days while they tried to find the parents. But if he couldn’t get the crowd to listen to him…

Then he realized who they would listen to.

Mickey smiled as he was passed up onto the float, into the arms of an enormous, dark-skinned man wearing a white shirt with big numbers on the front. He beamed down at the boy, and Mickey found he wasn’t nervous at all.

“What’s your name, little brother?” he asked.

Mickey told him his name.

The big man took a microphone from somebody else on the float and signaled the operator to kill the music he’d been playing. “Hey, yo, listen up!” he shouted through the speakers. He had to repeat himself, but before he needed to say it a third time this enormous crowd – more people than Mickey had ever seen in one place in his life – were quiet enough that he could be heard.

“This is my friend Mickey,” he said, holding the boy up. “And Mickey’s looking for his momma. Is she out there?”

There was a scream from somewhere in the middle of the pack, and people parted – this crowd parted – to allow a woman with a red, tear-stained face to come rushing through. Mickey didn’t quite understand it. Mommy looked like she had been crying, but why? He wasn’t scared. He was having fun.

The parade started rolling again, and from the balcony of a nearby building Kurt saw a group of men – big, hairy men – wearing black and gold evening gowns. Some of them were strapless, others showed far too much leg for the 40-degree weather… or any other weather, for that matter. The sign on the balcony read “THIS ONE’S FOR YOU, BUDDY D!” There was a story there, he could tell, but never having been a football fan, it went right over Kurt’s head. He laughed anyway, sincerely.

Sandy Nicholsen was a sports fan, but she hadn’t seen many postseason games this year. On New Year’s Eve, she got into a fight with her father over the party she wanted to go to. Her whore of a stepmother convinced him there would be drugs there and he forbid her to go. (There would be drugs, of course, but what business was it of hers if Sandy wanted a little nose candy instead of a candy cane?) She went off to the party anyway, and hadn’t come home that night, or any night after. She’d expected her friends to take her in, but after a couple of weeks their hospitality wore out, and the 16-year-old had been on the streets ever since.

That’s how she missed the game. Finally, a black-and-gold Superbowl, and she missed it. Not as much as she missed the food at her parents’ Superbowl party, though. She wondered if anyone had brought a Rouse’s King Cake this year. She wondered if there had even been a party this year. She was starving, and didn’t have a dime left to buy any food with.

That’s why she stole the iPhone on the parade route. It was easy in this crowd, thousands of people packed together – even a novice pickpocket like Sandy could easily get a phone from someone’s pocket without their notice, especially if they were fool enough to keep it in the back pocket. She’d sell it and buy something to eat.

At the moment, though, she needed to pee. She slipped out of the crowd and walked a few blocks down to an open convenience store where she knew the clerk on duty wouldn’t care if you used the bathroom without buying anything. She popped in, did what she was there for, and popped back out again. On her way out, though, her eye caught something by the cash register. It was a Sports Illustrated cover, blown up to poster size, with an unmistakable face. She’d seen him roll by in the parade just minutes ago. It was the quarterback, and in his outstretched hands was not a football, not the gleaming silver trophy the coach carried on his float… it was a baby. It was his baby, and father and son stood in the stadium in Miami, surrounded by a rainfall of confetti, both wearing expressions of such excitement that they could only be matched by the crowd on the streets outside.

As Sandy walked off, she started to cry, and not the jubilant tears of many in the crowd.

Kurt noticed, a few minutes later, a weeping teenage girl handing a phone to a cop, but he couldn’t hear her tell him she found it on the ground. Nor would he be there when the owner of the phone picked it up tomorrow only to find that a single call had been placed while the phone was missing. And none of them saw the car that forced through the mob and traffic to pick Sandy up later that night, although the joy in that moment could have rivaled the hoisting of the Lombardi.

The parade halted again, for another toast, and this time it was the players who moved out into the crowd. The barricades were still holding at this part of the route, so the players went up to the fans, taking pictures and signing autographs. Three of them, Kurt saw, ran ahead of the float and into the marching band, which was playing the team’s rap-inspired anthem for the year. They started to dance along with the band members as cameras flashed and videos that would soon find their way to YouTube rolled. One of them rushed up to Gerren Simons, a junior playing the quads, took his drumsticks, and started to play along with the band. When the song finished, he handed Gerren the drumsticks, hugged the boy, and returned to the float. Still shaking, Gerren slid the drumsticks down his long pants pocket and retrieved his back-up sticks from the other side. He would never use those drumsticks again.

Julianne Cole didn’t know what to make of the parade. She’d been filming in New York a few years ago when the Giants won the big game, and their victory parade had been nothing compared to this. A few cars, some flatbed trucks, a handful of marching bands – and a few hundred thousand less people along the route.

Julianne had been nervous about filming a movie in New Orleans to begin with, but the director, Curtis, was a native of the area and promised she would be impressed. She had been, she had to admit it. Even before the hometown boys made it to the game, the city was much better than she’d expected. Everything she saw on the news made it look like the floodwaters had cleared approximately yesterday. Instead, she found a wealth of new construction mixed with classic architecture, and while there were still places shut down, they were in the minority. Even the set where they were filming was as up-to-date as anything she saw in New York or California.

All that aside, she was still apprehensive when Curtis and his wife insisted she come out to the victory parade with them. The people she was working with down here were all nice, but out there? Among the drunken crowds? She was a little bit terrified.

She borrowed a team hoodie and cap from Curtis’s wife, Rachel, and went out with them, and while each person they met exuded pure bliss, she was still anxious around so many of them. Nobody was being intentionally violent, but in a crowd this size, it was inevitable that she would be forced to one side or another, and each time it happened she feared losing her hat and being recognized. Just as Kurt’s float passed where she was standing, the sea of people around her surged and she fell forward. The hat tumbled from her head and she threw her hands up to protect herself from the stampede.

Instead of crushing footfalls and bloodthirsty screams, though, she heard a friendly voice through the crowd say, “Oh, I’m sorry, sugar. Let me help you up, there.”

A hand grabbed hers and she was pulled to her feet by a large man in a Superbowl Championship sweatshirt. He was red-eyed and stubbly, and Julianne had no doubt he had been one of the Bourbon Street partygoers who stumbled away from the celebrating in the wee hours of Monday morning and crawled from Bourbon Street to claim a spot for the Tuesday night parade. In the hand that was not concerned with hoisting Julianne to her feet, he held a beer.

“You okay?” he asked. “I’m sorry ‘bout that, you know how these crowds are.”

“I’m fine,” she said, scrabbling for her hat and trying to pull her hood back on at the same time. She hoped to get it on before he got a good look at her, but as she tucked her black hair beneath the hood, there was already a slow recognition spreading across the man’s face.

“Heeeeey,” he said. “Ain’t you that girl who was in that movie?”

She blushed. “Yes,” she said. “That was me.”

“I like that show, you was good in that.”

“Thanks.”

He looked her up and down, appraising her. Finally, he asked the only question that mattered tonight. “You a Who Dat?”

“Um… yeah,” she said. Suddenly, she was unable to keep herself from bursting into a smile. “Yeah, I am.”

He reached into the pocket of his sweatshirt and handed her an unopened can of beer. “Well a’ight, then!” he said, and resumed cheering for the parade. That night Julianne, Curtis, Rachel, and the guy with the sweatshirt would be at Lucy’s bar when the quarterback arrived and revealed to the crowd the secret chant he’d been using to rev the team up all season, but even a beer served by the MVP wouldn’t be as sweet as the one she was given on the street. For the first time she was beginning to feel like everyone else at the parade… like family.

A block further down the route, Joseph Addison couldn’t have felt more apart from his own family. After the divorce, after he was forced to shut down the used bookstore he ran with his ex-wife, he’d come to New Orleans from Phoenix to spend a few weeks with his sister and get his head together. She was after him to move there, the way she did after college when her husband Derek was transferred to the nearby Coca-Cola plant. It’s not like he had any reason to stay in Phoenix. Their parents were dead and, due to some outrageous claims she had made sound very plausible, Susan got custody of most of their friends in the divorce. He missed running a book shop, though, missed that sort of independence, and despite his sister’s assurances, he doubted he would find much of a market around here.

He was hanging to the back of the crowd, pressed against the darkened front of a vacant store. Even here, the revelers were pressed right up against him. If he was claustrophobic, he would be going into shock right now. Instead, he just hung in the back with his head low.

“Hey! You!”

He probably wouldn’t have heard just a single voice in the crowd shouting at him except that this voice, somehow, was booming over a microphone and a set of very large speakers on the side of the float.

“You in the back!” Jospeh looked up and realized that not only was there a Superbowl champion shouting at him, but several thousand people were watching him do so.

“Cheer up, dude!” the man on the float shouted. “This is a party!” He cocked his arm back and threw something in a perfect arc to Joseph, who somehow recovered from being stunned long enough to catch it. He looked down at a long string of black beads punctuated by gold-colored fleur-de-lis medallions.

“Well you have to wear that, you know,” someone said. A woman with green eyes – amazing green eyes he could see even in the parade lighting – took the beads from his hand and looped them over his head. As she did so, Joseph felt himself smile. Later, the girl would introduce herself as Hannah, and Joseph would tell her he used to own a bookshop. She would express her love of writers ranging from Jodi Picoult to Isaac Asimov, and together, they would close the last coffee shop still open on the parade route.

The next day, he would come back to the closed, darkened storefront with the “AVAILABLE FOR LEASE” sign in the window. He would take out a notebook he always kept in his pocket, and for the second time in 24 hours, he would write down a phone number.

When the parade finally rolled to a stop, Kurt hopped off and stepped outside of the Mardi Gras World hanger to smoke a cigarette. They were estimating 800,000 people tonight, an insane number, but if he were to guess, he thought that number was on the low side. And the crowd’s behavior was fantastic. As Julianne Cole was observing across town, a lot of cities got violent in their success – broken store fronts, overturned cars. But in New Orleans, Party City U.S.A., none of that happened.

“This is N’awlins, dahlin’,” her friend in the sweatshirt explained. “We don’t set cars on fire! We dance on the hood!”

There were still people dispersing near Mardi Gras World, and from the other side of the fence, Kurt could listen to them while he smoked. An old woman was mediating an argument between a pair of teenage boys, and one of them was mad.

“You never believed!” he shouted. “Not until they won the NFC! You ain’t nothin’ but a bandwagon-jumper!”

“Hey, I wanted them to win…”

“But you never thought they could, did you?”

“Stop it, stop it!” the old woman shouted. “Jordan, sugar, what difference does it make?”

“It means he’s not a real fan, grandma!”

She shook her head at him. “Jordan, Jordan, Jordan… when the prodigal son came home, did his daddy care how long he was gone? No, he didn’t. So why should you care? It don’t matter when your brother started to believe. It just matters that he believes now.”

Kurt put out his cigarette and smiled at the words. Maybe there was something to that after all.

He was out of smokes, he noticed. He would stop for a pack on the way home. And when he did, he would see a display of hats, and he would buy one. It was very much like the hat he was wearing now – simple and all black, but with one major difference.

On the front, the new hat would have the brilliant golden shape of a fleur-de-lis.

Creative Commons License
Blake M. Petit’s Evercast by Blake M. Petit is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at www.evertimerealms.com.
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05
Mar
09

Erin’s First Mardi Gras (and Other Adventures)

One of the few benefits of a long-distance relationship like Erin and I have is that we both come with different sets of experiences, traditions, and even holidays, so we often have different things we can introduce one another to. If not for Erin, I may never have eaten a Primanti Brothers sandwich. In return, I give her Mardi Gras.

Living so close to New Orleans, I grew up with Mardi Gras. I reached the point where I was sick and tired of it. It’s actually been several years since I went to a parade, and many more years since I went to one on Fat Tuesday itself. But Erin, the love of my life, had never been to a Mardi Gras parade at all. So last week, when I had a week off of school, Erin came down and we gave her the full Mardi Gras experience.

Her experience started a little rough, as the airline again lost her luggage on her journey into Louisiana. (The same thing happened last year when she visited for my friend Jason’s wedding. Airlines hate us.) So the next day, the Sunday before Mardi Gras, she had only the clothes on her back, her Steelers hoodie, and the T-shirt in the bag Delta apparently gives to people who get screwed over this way. But we weren’t going to let this stop her from enjoying her first Mardi Gras. People who aren’t from New Orleans have a lot of misconceptions about the holiday. It’s not all drunken people flashing for beads. Really, that mostly happens on Bourbon Street, and they’ve really cracked down on it. I wanted to show her the small-town parade, the major parade, and the classic parade — at least for my family.

On the Sunday before Mardi Gras, we were invited by my sister-in-law’s parents to join them at their house. Kayla’s father rides in the Krewe of Terreanians Parade on this Sunday, and the parade route is just a short distance from their house, so my brother fired up the barbecue and we all had a really nice day before the parade even started.

Erin and I at the Houma parade

Erin and I at the Houma parade

Kayla meets her Dads float

Kayla meets her Dad’s float

Heather and Will at the parade

Heather and Will at the parade

Will and Chip relate to Chips niece, Ryan Grace.

Will and Chip relate to Chip’s niece, Ryan Grace.

We got a little sunburned, but otherwise had a great day. After the parade we went back to Kayla’s folks’ house for a little more food, before Erin and I joined Chip and Kayla, Heather and will, and Kayla’s cousin Erin to go bowling. I haven’t bowled in years, but I’m proud to say that my game has not suffered one iota. I’m still as terrible as I used to be. I may as well tell you — because if I don’t, she’ll just post it in the comments to this blog– that Erin beat me in both games. I was distracted in the second game, though, when one of my students showed up. Amazingly, I have never before seen anyone bowl and send a text message at the same time. Fortunately, he did even worse than I did.

On Monday night, we again joined Chip and Kayla (Heather and Will were supposed to come, but they got sick), and my friend Mike, and we all took Erin down to the Krewe of Orpheus parade in New Orleans. There are three “Superkrewes” at Mardi Gras time, three that are known for presenting a more dazzling, spectacular show than any other. I haven’t been to a Superkrewe since I was in high school, and I’ve never been to Orpheus before. It was a lot of fun. The floats really were spectacular, the chicken-on-a-stick I got from a sidewalk cart was even more spectacular, and we all had fun.

Orpheus Rolls

Orpheus Rolls

Why IS the robin red? This is actually a question for Dan DiDio...

Why IS the robin red? This is actually a question for Dan DiDio…

Mike clearly had a great time

Mike clearly had a great time

We all did.

We all did.

On Tuesday — Fat Tuesday — we got up early. this is not something Erin is typically in favor of, but it’s a necessity. When I was a kid, we always went to the Krewe of Argus parade in Metairie. I stopped going several years ago because it’s hot, it’s crowded, it’s noisy, and I’m not a fan of any of those things. I am a fan of Erin, though, and I’m not exaggerating when I say I had the most fun I’ve ever had on Mardi Gras with her. My father and his friend Gill went out early and got a spot on Veteran’s Boulevard, the busiest street in town, which was already swarming with people by the time the rest of us got there at seven. Erin and I went out with my mother, Gill’s wife Donna, Heather and Will, and Will’s brother David, then were joined by my Uncle Kent and his daughter Amanda.  We left home shortly after seven a.m., and the parade didn’t roll until 10, so we had some time. Several of us took a walk down Vet’s to Severin Avenue, location of my closed-for-the-day home-away-from-home, BSIComics. (The next day, while driving, we checked the distance and realized we walked almost exactly a mile there and a mile back.) After visiting with some friends of Heather and Will’s, we walked back, stopping on the way so Erin could have her first official New Orleans Original Daiquiri.

The essence of Mardi Gras: sitting in the middle of one of the busiest intersections in Jefferson Parish at 10 a.m. drinking a Daquiri. Erin was in bliss.

The essence of Mardi Gras: sitting in the middle of one of the busiest intersections in Jefferson Parish at 10 a.m. drinking a Daiquiri. Erin was in bliss.

The Krewe of Argus rolls

The Krewe of Argus rolls

The Argus parade is typically much more laid-back and family-friendly than the festivities in New Orleans proper, and it was a lot of fun. After Argus, we watched over 150 truck floats roll by and, laden with trinkets and beads and — in my dad’s case — Moon Pies, we trekked back home for a barbecue and a nap, in that order.

I’ve only showed off a few of the literally hundreds of pictures Erin and I took at the three parades. You can see a lot more at my Mardi Gras 2009 Flickr Album.

On Wednesday, we slept late, because you need to. It was the day after Mardi Gras, for Heaven’s sake. Then, we bounced off to the comic shop (it may have been the day after Mardi Gras, but it was still Wednesday), then did a little shopping. Erin’s favorite soap shop, Lush, had opened a small store inside the new Macy’s at Lakeside Mall, so I made sure to take her there. While there, she proved once again what an awesome girlfriend she is. Knowing that I wanted to watch LOST that night, Erin bought a bath bomb and offered to take her bath during the show. If I didn’t know already, this would be enough to convince me it was true love. Before that, though, we took in an afternoon screening of Coraline. We’ve both been hoping to see it, being fans of both author Neil Gaiman and director Henry Selick. I’m happy to say it more than lived up to our expectations — an excellent fantasy adventure with dazzling visuals and so much pure imagination it almost hurts.

Thursday was awesome. Some months ago, my Uncle Todd briefly appeared on the Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, a customer at the Rivershack Tavern. After Erin saw the episode, she wanted to go to the restaurant, so we sought it out for lunch. The tavern is one of those great old places with lots of crazy knick knacks and lots of different beer. Erin had a shrimp-and-oyster po-boy, and I had Rusty’s Chicken Ranch sandwich, which I described as being “What a Chicken Tendercrisp would taste like if the Burger King had a soul.” Seriously, next time you’re looking for a great place to eat in New Orleans and you don’t mind driving a little out of your way, this is the best meal you could ask for. We also caught Friday the 13th that night, and I wrote a quick review of it that night as we rested up and got ready for a big day on Friday.

The Rivershack Tavern -- home of deliciousness

The Rivershack Tavern — home of deliciousness

Ever since Erin first visited me, we’ve been hoping to take a trip to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. We finally made it to the zoo last spring, but with one thing or another we never made it to the Aquarium until now. I haven’t been to the Aquarium in probably over 15 years, but I’ve got a real local’s pride in the Audubon Society and their parks and zoos. I firmly believe they’re the best at what they do, and I had a wonderful time with her, watching the fish and the sharks, the undersea creatures and the frogs. Erin got to pet a shark and a stingray, and she got to take pictures of real penguins. They weren’t exactly in a performing mood, but we had a wonderful time nonetheless.

The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas

The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas

Erin wants to copy this design asthetic in our bathroom someday.

Erin wants to copy this design aesthetic in our bathroom someday.

Its amazing how hard it is to take a picture of a giant TURTLE.

It’s amazing how hard it is to take a picture of a giant TURTLE.

Penguin Party!

Penguin Party!

Ze plan... she ees good, yes?

“Ze plan… she ees good, yes?”

Deleted scene from The Blair Witch Penguin.

Deleted scene from “The Blair Witch Penguin.”

Cuddling in the Amazon

Cuddling in the Amazon

Erin: Its a glitch in the Matrix!

Erin: “It’s a glitch in the Matrix!”

Even at the bottom of the sea, shes cute.

Even at the bottom of the sea, she’s cute.

Think its hard to take a picture of a turtle? Try the flippin otters.

Think it’s hard to take a picture of a turtle? Try the flippin’ otters.

Lucky Frog

Lucky Frog

Unlike the zoo, which is a day-long affair, we managed to go through the entire Aquarium in about two hours, which left us plenty of time to tour the streets of New Orleans. We wandered down to Bourbon Street, which had been scrubbed down for three days and still smelled like Mardi Gras. It’s not my favorite place to be, but Erin is my favorite person, so it was an easy decision to make. We stopped in at a nice little used bookstore, got several bags worth of deliciousness at Southern Candymakers, and Erin even finally got her genuine Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane!

Erin + Hurricane = Good Times

Erin + Hurricane = Good Times

On Friday, it was time for another tradition Erin has heard about but never got the chance to take part in. Every Friday in Lent, my cousins Carl and Tammy host a big seafood feast at their home — Crawfish boils, shrimp boils, pasta, and my personal favorite, the fish fry. For this first Friday in 2009, we had fried catfish, fried shrimp, and boiled crab. My mother and Carl taught Erin how to crack open her own crabs, and I think she enjoyed it — although given the choice, I suspect she’ll still take her crabs pre-dissected.

Mom shows Erin how to open crabs... apparently at super-speed.

Mom shows Erin how to open crabs… apparently at super-speed.

On Saturday, we met up with my friends Mike, Chase, and Kenny, and Erin got to partake in a true “Boys Day.” Comic book shops, bookstores, Best Buy, and two stops for food and libations, in which she again proved she can drink any of my friends under the table. The best part of the day was taking an inebriated Chase and Mike to a New Orleans Saints store, where Erin wanted to get t-shirts for herself and her mother. We finished up the night at the Fox and Hound (having determined there were no movies we all wanted to see), just drinking, eating, and talking. My friends love Erin — partially because she helps them pick on me, but mostly because she’s awesome.

Sunday sucked in more ways than one. After going to church, we joined my family for lunch at the Chinese buffet we go to so often that the waitress only needed to ask Erin what she wanted to drink. Since her flight didn’t leave until 6:30, we got to relax for much of the day. We packed, then watched TV, and took a picture of Erin’s favorite stuffed pal Mr. Pengy, along with the Mrs. Pengy she gave me at Christmas to keep me company when she’s not around. Shut up, it was the sweetest thing anyone has ever done for me.

Mrs. and Mr. Pengy

Mrs. and Mr. Pengy

Then it was off to the airport. Erin got on her plane and was on her way home… or so we thought. If you were watching the news last weekend, you may have heard about some weather problems in the northeast. Erin’s flight was due to land in Charlotte at about 8:30, but instead was diverted to Raleigh, where she sat on the runway for a while before being diverted BACK to Charlotte… only to find the airport shut down until 4 a.m. the next day. She waited around until then, and was placed on standby for a 9 a.m. flight, not making it home until nearly noon. Honestly, the summer Mike and I drove up to Pittsburgh proved we could have gotten her home by car in about the same amount of time.

It’s frustrating when things like this go wrong, but it’s still worth it. Because Erin is the love of my life. She’s my heart. She’s my everything.

I can’t wait for her to be here again.

24
Feb
09

Erin’s First Mardi Gras

So today was the end of Erin’s first Mardi Gras. As always, after her visit is over I’m going to write up the whole story, but in a nutshell, we took her to three parades in the past three days with my family and friends. We had a wonderful time. I actually enjoyed Mardi Gras for the first time since I was in high school.

And here are a couple of quick pictures from yesterday’s Orpheus parade.

Emergency Backup Geek Mike with Erin

Emergency Backup Geek Mike with Erin

Emergency Backup Geek Mike with Me

Erin and I together -- as it should be.

Erin and I together -- as it should be.

22
Feb
09

Home and Sunburnt

We took Erin out to her first Mardi Gras parade today — a nice little family parade in Houma. We are currently waiting up for her luggage to arrive, a day late, after an unscheduled detour to Akron, Ohio.

I know.

A few quick pictures from today to tide you over:

Erin enjoys her first parade!

Erin enjoys her first parade!

 

Almost as much as my brother enjoys his 347th.

Almost as much as my brother enjoys his 347th.

Roasted in the sun, but happy together.

Roasted in the sun, but happy together.




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